Bourbon Stakes on Keeneland Turf is a Battle of Winners

What to make of the Bourbon Stakes (G2T), a 1 1/16-mile test Oct. 8 over the Keeneland turf with a field of 12, 11 of them last-race winners? All 12—and all three also-eligibles—were bred in Kentucky. All are colts except a single gelding. They ran their last races at six different tracks. Four of the main dozen fetched six-figure prices at 2022 yearling sales, three at the pavilion just a stroll from the Keeneland paddock. Sorting them out by stakes performers could help. Noted, a Cairo Prince colt trained by Todd Pletcher for Repole Stable, won the Sapling Stakes on the Monmouth Park dirt in his last start but won on the grass before that at Saratoga. Both victories were around two turns. After the Sapling, Pletcher assistant Stu Hampson said it's always tempting to try a good 2-year-old on dirt because "everyone always dreams about the first Saturday in May as well. So we wanted to give him his fair shot on the dirt." Vote No is 2-for-2, with the latter win coming in the $487,500 Juvenile Sprint at Kentucky Downs Sept. 13. William Morey trains for owner Joseph P. Morey Jr. Vote No is the lone gelding in the field and used a late turn of foot to upset the favorite, Hedwig, in the stakes win. He started with a 5 1/2-furlong score on the Presque Isle Downs all-weather course, becoming the first winner for Airdrie Stud's first-crop sire Divisidero. Tok Tok also improved his record to 2-for-2, both wins at Colonial Downs, with a victory in the 1 1/16-mile Kitten's Joy Stakes in his last start. Graham Motion trains the Quality Road colt for Alain and Gerard Wertheimer. The Wertheimers double their chances with Nomos, the sole last-out non-winner in the main field. The Uncle Mo colt finished fourth in the With Anticipation Stakes (G3T) Aug. 31 after winning at first asking four weeks earlier at Monmouth Park. Given his breeding, graded stakes experience, and Pletcher as his trainer, he will find support despite the loss. Most of the others are recent maiden winners, although Coin Miner got his first win for trainer Keith Desormeaux in a $255,000 allowance at Kentucky Downs restricted to Keeneland sales graduates. Those hoping to move up in their first shot against winners include Palm Tree, trained by Brendan Ross for Godolphin, Gorilla Trek (Phil Bauer for Rigney Racing), Depictions (Cherie DeVaux for a large partnership), Can Group (Mark Casse for D.J. Stable LLC and Cash Is King), Fortune Seller (Kevin Rice for Bella Mia Stables LLC), Double Your Money (Brian Lynch for Broadshorts Stables), and First World War (Brendan Walsh for Qatar Racing and Hunter Valley Farm). The race is one of three during the week that will bear heavily on the makeup of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. The Bourbon and the weather-delayed Oct. 4 Pilgrim Stakes (G2T) at Aqueduct Racetrack both offer "Win and You're In" spots for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T). The Zuma Beach Stakes (G3T) on Oct. 8 is not a designated qualifier but does have the advantage of being run at Santa Anita Park, the site of this year's World Championships.